As supporters turned out to The PrivateBank Fire Pitch and viewers around the world tuned in for Bastian Schweinsteiger's introductory press conference, a few members of the Chicago Fire youth development system enjoyed some special access to the German legend Wednesday afternoon.
As Basti and his family arrived at the North Side soccer center, he was greeted behind the scenes by Chase Nagle (U-9 Pre-Academy) and Jenny Rodriguez (U-12 Pre-Academy), who escorted the World Cup champion to his place on the dais.
Also in the green room were Tyler Bielawski (CFJ City U-11 Boys White), Dillon Kraft (CFJ City U-13 Boys Red) and Laura Tobar (CFJ U-12 Girls White), who provided Schweinsteiger's wife Ana Ivanovic and his family with their official Fire scarves.
"It was a great privilege to be able to meet a world class player like him," said Kraft, while Bielawski echoed similar sentiments.
"It was an awesome experience," Bielawski said. "I am hoping to see him play on the field soon."
Later, as the media Q&A came to an end, it was Mary Claire Galante (CFJ City U-10 Girls Red) and Guilian Henson Myers (CFJ City U-11 Boys White) who presented Schweinsteiger with his first Fire jersey sporting his iconic No. 31. Like Schweinsteiger, Mary Claire and Guilian each wear jersey No. 31 for their respective clubs.
In all, several dozen Fire Juniors players and their families were on hand for the special occasion.
For Mary Claire, the experience was understandably one she won't soon forget.
"It was so awesome to see a legend at the Fire Pitch where we play," she said. "It was so cool that I got to see him and his family along with the Fire coach. He was so nice to take a special photo with the CFJ City #31s. I loved it all so much and I can't think of a more happier day than today."